Inspired by this article in The Times, I nominate American Shaolin:
P. J. O'Rourke 'I loved AMERICAN SHAOLIN. Reading it was like being abducted by an alien - a brilliant, funny and hospitable alien'
Dan Rather 'Tells more about what's going on in China, has more insights into the real China, than anything in recent years'
I'm already interested in the Bodhidhama, the Indian monk who seems to have been pivotal to the development of Zen and the Shaolin temple. so I may learn some more about that from the book, but I'm also partial to travelogues with jokes.
Rather sportingly, according to his website, the book's author Matthew Polly is "happy to answer a few questions by email or schedule a 30-minute conference by speakerphone when you’re reading American Shaolin!" That might be fun.
Serendipitously, given the amount of time I spend at Jackapong, here he is on Muay Thai - my boy's hobby - in Slate earlier this month.